If all goes according to plan, West Kelowna’s Paul Duffield will be the 26th person to officially become a member of the International Ice Swimming Association this weekend.
And he’ll be the first person to complete the feat in Canadian waters.
Duffield will set off near the Gellatly Bay CNR wharf Sunday and swim north for half of a mile before turning back for the final leg of the mile-long cold water swim.
The England-born, 42-year-old is required to abide by all IISA rules, which include finishing the swim in water colder than five degrees celsius without wearing a wet suit.
“I measured the water yesterday—it was 4.5 degrees celsius,” said Duffield.
“Most of the successful swims are in the four to five degree range. Very few are successful below four degrees, so I have a really small window of opportunity to give me the best chance to get a successful swim on Sunday.”
Duffield’s current best training attempt was a 1,500 metre swim—about 100 metres short of a mile—in 5.6 degree water.
Although he’s yet to complete the full distance in training, the ice swimmer is optimistic he will have success Sunday.
“I’ve got to go into it confident; I’ve got to visualize the end. But anything could happen…nothing is a guarantee.”
A lot of uncertainty surrounds the attempt, including the danger that comes with physical exertion in an extreme temperature.
Several individuals will be on hand to ensure Duffield stays safe during his swim. One of his swim coaches will be kayaking beside him throughout the entire attempt.
“I’ll be swimming in water five-feet deep…if I have any trouble I can stop and stand—but that will mean the attempt is aborted because I’m not allowed to stand, rest or hang onto the boat at any time.”
To qualify for the IISA challenge, Duffield will have to submit a printout from a recently conducted electrocardiography, sworn statements from at least two witnesses that will include the location of the swim and the temperature of the water and a GPS printout of the route completed.
Open water swimming is a relatively new concept for Duffield. It caught his interest in 2009 when he attempted the annual Across the Lake Swim.
He is encouraging anyone who is interested to watch his attempt Sunday at Gellatly Bay. He plans to take off around 10:30 a.m.